Challenging new rules, are the old ones really that bad?
I believe that the original idea for dating was that people would go out and do activities together so they could get to know each others "real selves". This dating process allowed us to evaluate how we felt in relationship to different people, more about their true character and if we were getting enough from the relationship to decide to take it to the next level=a relationship.
Somewhere along the line...I think it was in middle schools and high schools...it became a shameful thing to date more than one person. The expectation was you met someone, liked them and became boyfriend and girlfriend to the exclusion of others. If you truly "dated", which would mean you were free to check out more than one person, you were labelled a slut, a whore, a player, a male whore....it was deemed a negative and an affront to all your friends.
So as we moved into adulthood we followed the same pattern: meet someone, fall into bed, or love or something and then become boyfriends and girlfriends right away. If we dared to date more than one person we'd feel bad and rushed (either by our own inner sense of urgency or by pressure from the other person)and feel we needed to pick one...hopefully "THE ONE".
And even though this did not work, over and over and over, we continue to do the same thing. We get so attached we feel we can't leave the relationship when it becomes clear it isn't good for us. We try to force the other person to be the person we want them to be. We try to fit the Square Peg in the Round Hole. It doesn't work.
I advocate that we go back to the true art of dating. Just date. Date as many people as you want at one time. Date them all until you don't like someone. Then drop them. If you find someone else, start dating them too. Do this for months, or years...it doesn't matter how long, until you meet someone who is really compatible, who likes you the way you are, who treats you well, who has the same goals in life, who shares your values.
A few weeks ago I was discussing this with a client who is trying to get it right, this time. He got a little distressed because, as we discussed these ideas, he realized this meant he couldn't be sexual or physically intimate with the women he was dating.
If we are going to do this Respectful Dating, we can't go around being physically intimate with the people we are dating until we decide that we want to be in a committed relationship. If you feel you need to have sex, go have a one night stand with someone you don't want to date. But you can't "DATE" and have sex.
Even if both people say they are OK with having sex without commitment, it changes up the dynamics and changes up how well you can really see the person and their character.
Both men and women get attached when they have sex with someone. Sometimes that scares people and they start pushing the other person away and sometimes it makes people get more involved than they would want to be at that stage of the relationship. So even when people say they are OK with sex without commitment, they are each thinking "obviously this person really likes me or they wouldn't be having sex with me", and they start putting all their emotional eggs in that basket.
It isn't fair. It isn't fair to you and it isn't fair to them.
This really hit my client and he realized he has really not been as respectful as he would like to be in his relationships and is feeling challenged to do it differently.
What's the big rush about anyway? Are you worried that if you can't get the person into bed you'll lose them to someone else? If this was the person's true character what would you want them around for anyway!
So think about changing up how you approach the whole dating thing. If you aren't in high school anymore do you need to live by that jaded rule book anymore? If you are in high school wouldn't you love to be the maverick who challenges the status quo and help yourself and others find a more respectful way to have relationships?
I hope this stirs up some good conversations. Please share thoughts and comments and questions with me!